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The cut with Filter Musikk

When the things people say is clad in so many layers of irony that the very term in itself is… ironic, we take comfort that there are still places that exist where things just are taken at face value. I’m thinking of a particular place, a social hub for a music enthusiast. In an era where we are currently bombarded with every inane thought through the ubiquitous existence of social media, this is a place we can go to escape the uninformed opinions and dreary trivialities, where it’s just us and the music, a place where some might know your name, and there’s always a conversation waiting for you.

It’s a place where music can live freely from some uninformed opinion and we are left to appreciate the music for its inherent qualities and not the hype or trend dictated by somebody with a large promo budget. It’s a place where there’s no review or blurb telling you about the record and your selections are only ever dictated by personal taste.That place is the record store and in Oslo that place is Filter Musikk. 

When music is a disposable commodity, traded online like a $5 t-shirt, we take solace in the fact that the record store store still exists and that there are people, artists, record labels and record store owners like Roland Lifjell putting the effort into the art form for the sake of a physical format. In an age when cutting and distributing a record is a huge expense, we won’t suffer mediocre music lightly and the record store is the last bastion for good music. The record store is a rare occurrence today, a unique entity that solely exists for music’s intrinsic value, making a specialist store like Filter Musikk that much more special. 

It’s a place where the music is a passion and electronic music is more than just a DJ tool, it’s a way of life. Music isn’t a mere commodity here, it’s an investment, and we have to ruminate over each new record, for the sake of monetary and physical economy. We can’t concern ourselves with trend, style or popularity, these are the records that will need to stand the test of time, the records and music that have left a substantial mark, and continues to live beyond the moment.

Ours is a painstaking exercise in restraint and in personal predilection for music. From the man behind the counter, Roland Lifjell who has to sift through catalogue upon catalogue to find the cream of the crop in records to adorn the shelves his store, to the punter who spends his free time listening to these records in pursuit of filling his own musical library, these are the records that deserve your attention and every week there are new pieces to consider as Roland Lifjell unpacks a new box of fresh arrivals. It’s that time again, time for another Cut with Filter Musikk and Roland Lifjell.  


Marco Shuttle – The Vox Attitude Remixes Vol. 2 (Eerie) 2xLP

“My favourite record now,” says Roland Lifjell about this latest Marco Shuttle re-issue, “It is double but can be considered a double single. Great originals and the remixes are quality too… Rare.” Released nine years ago, this Marco Shuttle’s “the Vox Attitude” is one of those records that have lived on in record bag lore ever since it was first  released in 2011. Only re-issued once before in 2013, it’s the first time that the iconic track is featured alongside it’s B-side counterpart, “Spaziale”and as if that wasn’t enough both tracks get the remix treatment from Atom tm and Pessimist and Marco Shuttle himself.  

If we’re talking about records that stand the test of time, there isn’t a better example. That expressive vocal sample; the bold kick and bass arrangement that moves to the track at half time; and the stark metallic synthesis that arrives from some alien dimension, piercing the firmament of the track. It might wear some stylistic traits from its time, but it was a time when Techno was going through a massive metamorphosis and a host of artists like Marco Shuttle were re-imagining the genre, influenced by the deep, rolling basslines that Dubstep had left in its wake and the new advancements in computer synthesiser technology.

Atom tm and Marco Shuttle contemporize the title track in their remixes, with Atom tm applying his distinctive Germanic funk to the original, and Marco Shuttle offering a big room modern-day Techno interpretation, doing away with that half time rhythm section with a strict four to the floor beat, losing touch somewhat with the esoteric nature of the original, but perhaps making it more accessible for a new generation of DJ, that might need to be coerced into the unique majesty of the original. 

It’s something Pessimist flips on its head on the remix for “Spaziale,” as he takes the original to brooding dimensions skipping along to an electro beat and punching holes in a cloud of white noise and static. It’s a long way off from the sparkling upbeat original and I daresay, the star of this particular release, not considering the lead track. Consumed by some latent darkness this track has very little relationship to the original and stands completely on its own in amongst the rest of the release; it’s worthy of its own 12”.

 

Lawrence – Black Cats (Mule Musiq) 12″

Lawerence has perfected the sound of this kind of minimalist Techno and House that he’s  nurtured through the years as a DJ, artist and label owner. Returning to the Mule Musiq camp and with an LP for his own label DIAL, sandwiched between releases, the 12” finds Lawrence in his usual ethereal and contemplative mood. 

With designs on the dance floor, but ensuring that visceral melodic quality he imprints on  his music, Lawrence moves between elements of House, Techno, Electro and Ambient music through three tracks that stack layer upon layer of wispy synthesisers and keys over a soft bed of steadfast rhythms. 808 kicks and poly bass lines barely make an impression on the texture, but thread a stream of consciousness between evocative harmonic and melodic parts. 

Phrases arriving on loquacious waves of streams of thought in melody, float through the progression of the tracks, weaving between each other, carried on the rhythm of an unwavering kick drum and bass arrangement. Minimalist in its execution, Lawrence clearly doesn’t subscribe to the less is more approach in creating his music as he piles on layer after layer, creating three very atmospheric tracks for the dance floor.

From the electro-leaning beat of “Radiance” to the extemporised melodies of the title track, “Black Cats” has a trance-like quality, a musical reverie trapped in some listless movement on the dance floor. Lawrence is one of the few minimalist artists that continue to develop the style and make significant contributions to the scene. 

 


Space Dimension Controller – ReSEQ EP (R&S) 12″

Space Dimension Controller travels yet again to the elusive sanctum of Mikrosector 50 and Tiraquon 6 in this latest offering for R&S. Where cartoon alien creatures conspire in a brothel on some parallel nebula universe, that’s where Space Dimension Controller’s music plays through eighties ghetto blasters. 

The UK artist picks up the thread of a narrative he’s been fostering since first appearing on R&S back in 2010 and with his distinctive retrofitted electronic sound, Space Dimension Controller adds two more tracks to this ongoing saga of alien adventures. As if House took a detour through the quantum realm, SDC infuses clattering percussive arrangements with classic synthesisers, distorting and warping through the expanse of time to arrive at some mutated version of familiar eighties soundscapes. 

SDC’s unique take on classic sounds stands apart and continues to make a significant impression on labels like R&S and Clone’s Royal Oak imprint. There’s an enigmatic charm to SDC’s music which is in part due to the narrative that courses through his work, but is mostly contained on the sound that he perpetuated throughout his records. 

His treatment of melody and his complex harmonic arrangements stand alone in a landscape dominated interminable loops. There’s an element of funk that he brings to a record like this and although it might not work on every dance floor, a record like ReSEQ will definitely make a huge impression if played at the right place and time, landing like a UFO in the middle of the dance floor. 


Illuvia – Milla (Hypnus) 12″

Hypnus is nothing if not consistent. The sonic identity that the label sustains is like some unspoken code that every artist inherently understands as they arrive on the roster; even a new arrival like Illuvia. Although Ludvig Cimbrelius has been making this kind of music under several guises in the past, as Illuvia he falls into a symbiotic step with the Swedish label, with music that drifts between ambient- and beat music in serene thought bubble on “Milla.”

Illuvia brings some exotic elements to the label through three tracks that channel elements of world music and library sounds through their existence. The sonorous melodies of the title track and the hypnotic rhythm of “Chains” creates a sense of some imagined natural scene where a river laps up against some rocky embankment or a single stone disturbs the mirror-like gloss of a motionless pond. There’s a calm serenity that courses through the record that’s only disturbed by the remixes of the title track, and is well worth exploring further through the digital LP of the same name that includes the personal highlight “Aramis”.

 


Dax J – Chaos Come To Conquer (Monnom Black) 12″

And now for something completely different… Dax J conjures the dark, salacious underworld of Techno yet again for his own Monnom Black label. With no one to answer to and with no objective other than the personal creative agency of the artist and label boss, Dax J really doesn’t pander to subtlety when he’s at home on his own label and “Chaos Come to Conquer” says it all just in the title. 

If the tome of Robert Johnson were ever to be set in a contemporary frame Dax J would take the role of Johnson and a drum machine would replace the guitar. There’s no fine introduction or mediocre buildup through some prgressive slant, but rather just an unbridled enthusiasm and monstrous noise that hits you straight in the chest from that first beat of the title track, and never lets go until the very end of “The Drome (SE1).”

It says something of the record that the hair-raising “Speedball” is the more reserved outing on this record, but DAX J music isn’t all just punishing blow after blow through a wall of distorting noise. There’s a refinement to the way he orchestrates his music, with each element having the room to live in its own dimension without infringing on the other at which point they’ll just become noisy static.  

Making due with few elements and a severe focus on getting the most out of each through sound  design, “Chaos Come To Conquer” is not at all that chaotic, but rather chaos channeled into one succinct direction, where hard Techno and Acid conspire on the dance floor to the precise beat of the drum. “Chaos Come To Conquer” is not for the faint of heart and Dax J is clearly not here to pander to civility, but if you like that kind of Techno… and we do…there’s no finer example than Chaos Come to Conquer.